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Monday, July 17, 2006

Take charge of your own health

Recently I had an early miscarriage. What irked and annoyed me greatly was when I was trying to call up my doc to find out when I should go in for a check-up, I couldn't even get past the receptionist!

I was merely calling up to enquire when is a good time for me to have a check-up ie then or after my period was over. Obviously Ms Receptionist had a hearing problem and just kept on saying "Just come in". Hah! Yes, I want to come in for a checkup but my question was "when". But Ms Hard of Hearing Receptionist just kept on insisting that I "Just come in" "The doc is very busy, can't speak to you".

In the end, I had to make my own decision. I listened to my own body and since I felt alright, I decided to go and have a follow-up check after and not during my period. Everytime I go to see any doc, I have to drag my little ones along. I certainly had no intention to "Just come in" and then be told that the doc cannot do an internal examination during my period and to "Just come in" again at another appointed time. No way! It'll be a waste of my time and money.

I believe that everyone must take charge of their own health and not rely on their doctors blindly. When I say take charge here, I'm talking about reading up and finding up as much as you can, getting second opinions, things like that. I don't mean foolishly diagnosing yourself, medicating yourself without professional opinion or taking alternative medicine ie herbs etc without a proper prescription or ignoring your own body signals by not going to the doctor when you obviously do not feel well. By taking charge, I mean.....
  • Always find out about whatever illness you have so that you can discuss and ask the doctor everything that you need to know that will help put your mind at ease.
  • Always ask your doc questions. Do not be shy or afraid to ask questions. You have to understand your health or illness better and the only way to do so is to ask. Now, I know its hard to ask some specialists questions though. Some of them behave like their time is gold and speak to you curtly and very quickly like they can't wait to get you out of their examining room. Hey! I understand that Mr/Ms Specialist is a very busy person with lots of patients in the queue but this is my health/illness we're talking about here and I'm bewildered, confused and I need information about my health/illness. Can't you spare me a few minutes of your time?! I'm paying for it afterall. I think one thing that some specialists lack is human relations skills.
  • Always get a second opinion if its something more serious.
  • Always ask whether a prescribed medicine is really necessary to take.

From my experience, some doctors just diagnose you and then prescribe you some long term medication that you have to take without explaining the full implications (if you don't ask) and some of the meds may not even be necessary to begin with. My sister recently was prescribed some meds she had to take daily on a long term basis but when probed further, the physician said "Oh, its ok if you don't take it now that your symptoms have gone." Imagine, if she didn't ask. She would be taking something on a long term basis with don't know what side effects when it wasn't even necessary! I too have been prescribed long term medication but a second opinion gave a very different diagnosis and the second doc felt that it was not necessary for me to be on medication.

Yes, I definitely believe that I have to be a smart patient. Are you one? Oh and one more thing. Once you are above 30, thats when you will find many of your friends and yourself start having health problems one by one. You can't escape it. Its the old engine acting up. Even our bodies need servicing, tuning and regular maintenance. So if you are below 30, do take care of your health NOW! Eat healthily, exercise regularly and get enough sleep NOW!

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